Entries from November 2009 ↓

still so surreal

we just got back from a great trip to visit j’s family out east.  we more or less didn’t leave the house the entire weekend–it was great!  the one time that we actually left the house (other than for a run or to go get pizza down the street) was on Friday when we decided to go to the local JoAnn fabric store for a few crafting supplies and to take advantage of some great sales.  We arrived, fully expecting looooong lines at the cutting counter, but got lucky in our timing and didn’t end up waiting at all!  One of the things we bought there was some fabric to make swaddling blankets and burp cloths.  My sister-in-law needed to make some for a friend of hers who has an upcoming baby shower and while I was there in the store with her, she asked if I wanted to pick out any flannels for our baby.  At first, I wasn’t sure… should I pick out boy fabric or be super safe and still go gender neutral?  She suggested I go for boy prints because if I end up with a girl, she can always give the boy fabrics to someone else.  So i found some cute fabric with cars and a great stripe print (of course).  Then, I found some MORE flannels in the quilter’s flannel section that I love-love-loved, but of course, those weren’t on sale.  sigh.  but I still just had to get them for myself.  As the fabrics were being cut at the cutting table, the woman behind me said, “those are nice, what are they for?”  and I replied that I was thinking of using them to make “baby stuff” but I wasn’t sure exactly what specific baby stuff they’d turn into.  And then I had to FIGHT the urge to explain that I wasn’t pregnant and that I hadn’t just had a baby and I even found myself wanting to lie and say, “It’s for a friend.”  Why?  Why in the world would I lie to her?  Why do I care if this random woman who lives halfway across the country thinks I might be pregnant?  I mean, I really don’t feel like saying, “It’s for the baby we might be adopting in March” because, well, that’s just too much information.  The woman behind me didn’t want (or need) to know that and I didn’t feel like getting into any sort of adoption conversation with her.  She actually ended up following up her comments a few moments later by saying, “It would make a lovely quilt” or something like that.  But… if I had been pregnant and due in March, would I have shared that good news with her?  And would I have felt obligated to follow up with an admonition not to get too excited for me because anything can happen between now and March?  Still working on that “to the wind” thing.  But four years of conditioning is hard to shrug off quickly.

as in, “throw it to the wind”

a few weeks ago at my blessingway, one of my friends chose the word “caution.”  she was sort of apologetic for it and kept saying that she tried and tried to think of a different word, but this one was the word that kept surfacing and asking to be used.  she then elaborated and explained that she was giving the word to us in the sense of “throw caution to the wind.”  I’ve been thinking about that all week.  Every time someone congratulates us about our big news, my knee jerk reaction is to remind them that she could change her mind any time in the next four months and that nothing is certain and blah blah blah…. but another friend reminded me that there are similar uncertainties in pregnancy (it’s a panic not unique to adoption, just a different form*) and so maybe this excitement with a dose of trepidation is normal for all “expectant” parents.  I mean, even if everything goes smoothly and we bring home a baby in March, well, the trepidation will be somewhat justified because of the enormous upheaval our lives will take because we’re adding a new person to the household.

My sister called this week and encouraged me to go ahead and allow myself to get excited and to fall in love with this baby, but although I was touched by her phone call and her stories about how it took until a few weeks after her babies were born that she allowed herself to relax enough to fall in love with them, still it seems presumptuous of me to fall in love with a baby that is currently residing in someone else’s body.  Someone else that I haven’t even met yet.  Right now, he’s her baby.  This is her time to be his mommy.  If, when he is born, she decides that we are still the family she wishes to entrust her son to, then I’ll be able to relax enough to fall in love with him.  Until then, I’m just looking forward to being done with my school work so that I can actually dig in to really getting ready for a baby to arrive in my home (yes, the nursery looks somewhat ready, but we’re missing some key ingredients like clothes, diapers, sheets, bottles, pacifiers, and cute little baby hats.  Yep, I’m pretty sure that’s all we need.**).

I’m not sure I’ve succeeded at throwing caution to the wind YET, but I’ve got four more months to let that word, carved onto a little bird, take wings and fly, into the wind.

*in Dan Savage’s book The Kid he describes this dread as the fear of “BBD/BCM” (Baby Born Dead/Birthmother Change Mind).  A bit crude perhaps (it IS Dan Savage after all) but actually a somewhat useful acronym to sum up the biggest worries in this situation and, through humor, somewhat defuse them.

**for those of you who have asked, I think we’d prefer to wait to have a baby shower until after we bring a baby home.

here’s a little story that you will enjoy

about a week ago, we got a call from our Texas agency telling us that there was a birthmother* who was very excited about our profile and wanted to talk to us.  J took down the information while I flitted around the kitchen, freaking out a little and trying not to burn our dinner.  When he got off the phone, J took over the dinner preparation, and I took a few deep breaths, then dialed the number we’d been given.  I got voicemail.  Or, at least, I thought it was probably voicemail–it was really just  a recording of some music.  Not sure if I should leave a message, I hung up and called the agency to confirm that we had the right phone number.  Yes, it was correct.  So I called back and left a short message with our contact information.  In just a few minutes, she called back.  And we talked for two hours.  She talked to both J and me.  She told us how she’d been interested in our profile because we looked like “regular, normal people…. but a little bit goofy.  like me.”  We talked about big things (why she’s chosen to pursue adoption for her child) and small things (her favorite foods–apparently right now she’s into sour candy).  We laughed and tripped over each other’s words because we couldn’t talk fast enough.  She told us that she was having the gender-viewing sonogram in two days and that she was looking forward to finding out.  She told us she was due in March and we both laughed since J and I both have birthdays in March.  Finally, we said our goodbyes and both agreed that we’d enjoyed our conversation.

Two days later, I got another call from the Texas agency, this time while I was at work, telling me that she wanted to talk again.  I called.  She’d had the sonogram and wanted to tell us that she was having a boy.  and that he has a really round head.  We talked a little more and she told me that she wanted to spend a little more time deciding between us and another couple, but that she hoped to have an answer for us by next week.

I spent the weekend convincing myself that she wouldn’t choose us because I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  I spent the weekend convincing myself that she wouldn’t call until the following Thursday or Friday probably.  It’s a big life decision, not one to be made in a hurry.  I spent the weekend trying to curb my impatience and my dread.

On Monday, I was at a used bookstore picking out some titles for my nephews (shhhh…. Christmas gifts) and found a copy of the book “Happy Adoption Day” that’s based on the song by John McCutcheon.  It seems to focus a little more on international adoption, so I was waffling about whether or not to get it, but decided that since it was only 95 cents, I should just get it and add it to my own book collection.  Two minutes later, my cell phone rang.  I checked caller ID and it was her!  I answered the phone and she said she just wanted to call and tell us that she had picked us!  She picked us!  She’d called the agency to tell them and to get them to relay another message to me that she wanted to talk to me, but she got impatient and couldn’t wait for them to call me and for me to call back, so since she still had my phone number in her phone, she just called me directly to tell me.  She picked us!  She wanted to know if we wanted the sonogram picture for our scrapbook. (yes.)  She sent me a photo of herself taken with her cell phone.  She’s beautiful. and she picked us.

We got the rest of our paperwork the next day and faxed in our acceptance papers this morning.  We. are. matched.

*disclaimer:  technically, she’s not a birthmother until she has given birth AND signed the papers sealing her decision to choose adoption.  Until that time, she is just a mother.  But for convenience sake, I will refer to her as a birthmother for this story.

settling in to the interminable anticipation

so way back when (probably about six weeks ago, when we were still in paperwork limbo), I’d occasionally read blog posts from other parents-in-waiting that talked about how they would call their agency/legal advisor/whoever was facilitating their wait and ask for an update.  Or maybe some agencies just volunteer that information every month or so, I’m not sure.  Anyway, I’d read their comments about how they’re torn between wanting to hear any news at all and being disappointed whenever the news is that nothing is happening.  My thoughts generally ran along the lines of, “well duh–if anything was happening, you’d probably hear from someone!  Why put yourself through that torture each month?  Do you think it will make you feel BETTER to hear that no one’s looked at your profile for the past six weeks?”

Now that I”m in the pool, I have a little more compassion and understanding of that craving for some information–ANY information about what’s going on.  Are there lots of birthmoms coming to the agency and looking and leaving or changing their minds?  Is it a slow time right now?  Not because I think that knowing the answer to these questions will bring us any closer to having a baby to bring home, but more because if I knew that it was slow right now at the agency, I’d be able to relax a little more.  Or if I heard that there was lots of buzz about our profile, but that so far everyone’s been insisting on matching with a Texas family, then that would be at least somewhat encouraging.

It’s this constant low level of vigilance that’s getting tiring.  Always having to think, “do I have my phone with me?  Is it turned on?  Is it charged?”  I admit that I do relax when it’s not office hours because I think there’s less of a chance that we’ll get called on the weekend, but I could get totally burned that way, I know.  It’s sort of like the monthly roller coaster, except that it could (literally) be ANY day now–not just a few days out of the month.  The edge is starting to wear off and I sometimes forget to remember that this really will happen.  someday.

Tomorrow marks one month since we first found out we were in the pool.  Next Wednesday marks exactly six months since we first talked to our social worker here in town.  It feels like we’ve been on this road longer.  Why do I have a feeling that the time between now and the day we become parents is going to feel as long and stretchy as an eternity of taffy?

here’s the thing…..

so, we’ve got this great support group of friends and family who understand that our struggles with infertility have caused us a lot of pain.  who understand that, although adoption isn’t the route we’d always dreamed we’d take to build our family, it is a very hopeful and exciting and positive path for us to be on now.  whether or not we want them, we get comments like, “oh, it’s so great that you’re adopting–there are so many needy children out there!” from people who consider that to be a supportive statement.  we will have people praying for us throughout this process, lifting us up with their words and smiles of encouragement.

but what about the birthmother who chooses us?  she probably never dreamed, as she was growing up, that she’d be faced with the decision of having to entrust one of her children to strangers.  does anyone say to her, “it’s so great that your child will be adopted–there are so many needy  couples out there!”?  Does she have a great support group of friends and family who all understand that this will likely be the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make?  Will she have people praying for her, supporting and encouraging her decision?  I hope she has at least one strong cheerleader.  Well, I KNOW she’ll have two strong cheerleaders in us, but since we’re sort of biased, I hope that she’s got at least one friend or family member who will walk this path with her, will understand her pain, will support her decision.

Because, while I don’t know how I’d walk the path that we’re on without the support of our community, I know that if I were in her shoes, I’d need that kind of support even more.

the women’s circle

i realized recently that one of the things I like better about adoption than IVF is the level of involvement that J can have.  way back in the early days of making a baby, he had a very specific responsibility (ahem).  granted, it was a responsibility that didn’t take a lot of time commitment, but it was very important.  when we switched to IVF, he still had a very similar responsibility, but … somehow it felt like he was more removed from the process.  don’t get me wrong–he was very supportive emotionally (i wouldn’t have survived without him), but the fact that our fertilized embryos were planted directly into me (and although he WAS present for each of my transfers, he presence wasn’t actually required)  just made his participation seem somehow less significant in the moment.

in adoption, we are, for the first time, on completely level ground.  we’ve both been fingerprinted, had physicals, written autobiographies and traveled to Texas for orientation.  We’ve both attended required adoption classes.  When we get matched, we will both spend time on the phone talking with the birthmother who has chosen us.  If we are lucky, we may both be present in the room when our child is born, as supportive help to our child’s birthmother.  There’s a good chance that our child will be fed formula from a bottle, which we can both do equally well.  I love that I’m able to share all of these experiences equally with my husband.

and yet, there’s still a part of me that then wonders…. what makes me special as “the mom” if I don’t give birth to or nurse my child?  am I less of a woman?  i was shocked when this thought popped into my head as I was mulling this post over in my head.

And so, when my friends began planning this blessingway for me, our very original plans were to include both J and me in the party.  But the more I thought about the event and what I was hoping to experience there, the more I realized that I needed a special, women-only celebration.  It felt a little strange to exclude him, since he’s the only one who’s really been WITH me throughout this entire journey, but in the end, I’m so glad that I was able to experience this incredibly beautiful ceremony of support, surrounded by my women-friends.  After so many years of feeling a little bit like an outsider looking in as so many of my friends became mothers, this time of validating my journey toward motherhood was powerful beyond words.  thank you, friends, for planning and participating in this event.  it really means so very much to me.